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Archive for Sunday, May 9, 2004

As wrap-up dragged on, legislators returned to nonpolitical lives

May 9, 2004

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— Some legislators felt the pull of family, social or business obligations as the Legislature's wrap-up session stretched into its 11th day.

Five of 40 senators missed the last substantive vote of the session, on budget legislation. Eleven of the House's 125 members were absent.

When the Legislature convened its wrap-up April 28, its leaders expected to finish business in a week or less. Some members anticipated the same thing when they considered the calendars in their personal lives.

In addition, spring brings with it graduations and Mother's Day celebrations.

"They're citizens first," noted Senate Majority Leader Lana Oleen, R-Manhattan. "Sometimes, family situations caused people not to be able to be here, even when they wanted to be here."

Many of the missing legislators had family obligations.

Rep. Ruby Gilbert, D-Wichita, was absent for several days, spending time with family in Dallas for Mother's Day. Sen. Christine Downey, D-Newton, had family business pull her home.

Rep. Carol Edward Beggs, R-Salina, was ill, and Rep. David Huff, R-Lenexa, took a long-planned vacation to Europe. Rep. Carl Dean Holmes, R-Liberal, was attending a family funeral.

House Speaker Doug Mays, R-Topeka, said many of the missing House members were available had their votes been needed on important legislation.

In fact, Rep. Bob Bethell, R-Alden, interrupted his time with family in the Kansas City area to return to the Statehouse to vote on a school-finance bill.

Sen. Karin Brownlee, R-Olathe, also was present to vote on school-finance legislation but left early because of her daughter's high school prom.

Sen. Dave Jackson, R-Topeka, shuttled back and forth between the Statehouse and his greenhouse and nursery business.

"The day before Mother's Day is the busiest day of our year," Jackson said.

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